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D. Reid Weedon, MIT Corporation member and dedicated fundraiser, dies at 96

Class of 1941 alumnus was instrumental in “building a culture of giving at MIT.”
D. Reid Weedon ’41
D. Reid Weedon ’41
Photo courtesy of the Weedon family.

D. Reid Weedon Jr. ’41, MIT Corporation life member emeritus, global businessman, inspiring mentor, lifelong sailor and outdoorsman, and outstanding fundraiser for the institutions he loved, died at his home in Cohasset, Massachusetts, on Nov. 2 at the age of 96. 

Born in Newton, Massachusetts, Weedon earned a BS in general engineering at MIT in 1941 and later served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Shortly after the war, he joined the international consulting firm Arthur D. Little (ADL), retiring as senior vice president after more than 50 years. One of his first clients was the government of Puerto Rico, which hired ADL to help industrialize its economy.

Most notable of his work for ADL, and most meaningful to him, was monitoring the “Sullivan Principles.” Set forth by the Reverend Leon Sullivan, these principles for U.S. companies doing business in South Africa sought to end South Africa's economic isolation and, ultimately, apartheid. This work lasted 17 years until South Africa approved the reform process and held its first democratic elections in 1994. Weedon’s final visit, of more than 21 trips to that country, came just after Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

A tireless volunteer and trustee, Weedon loved — and excelled at — fundraising. MIT President L. Rafael Reif wrote that he doubted “there has been anyone more instrumental than Weedon in building a culture of giving at MIT, and the benefits of this are everywhere around me.”

Weedon served in almost every leadership position at MIT. He was a member of the MIT Corporation, president of the MIT Alumni Association, an energetic force in every MIT capital campaign, and a mentor to a generation of fundraisers who remained devoted to him. He was a dedicated member of the Phi Beta Epsilon fraternity at MIT and was committed throughout his life to supporting the academic, personal, and professional development of its undergraduates.

At Boston's Museum of Science, Weedon became a life trustee after serving as chair of its board. In recent years, he chaired the museum’s planned giving subcommittee and served as a member of the campaign executive committee. He was also a trustee of the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. As Linda Leddy, past president of Manomet, recalls, "'No' was not a word that meant much to Weedon — there was always a way ahead."

Weedon and his wife, the late Barbara Jencks Weedon, were longtime residents of Winchester, Massachusetts, where Reid was president of the Winchester Hospital board. He played a significant role in planning for the present and future of the Weedon homestead, constructed in the early 1890s by his grandfather in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and was the head of the Weedon Family Corporation, now numbering more than 160 descendants.

He loved to fly. Weedon was a licensed pilot, glider pilot, and hot air balloon operator. He cherished his time in Southport, Maine. In the 1960s, he bought a small island where he and his family built a cabin — transporting everything themselves. A keen sailor, he loved boats and built more than half a dozen during his lifetime; he was still cruising the waters of Maine at age 93. He enjoyed gardening, and no weed was safe in his lawn. If the tool did not exist, he would invent and craft one.

Weedon is survived by his wife, Estelle Miller Weedon, of Cohasset; his son, Charles Reid Weedon, and partner Susan Devokaitis of Pomfret, Connecticut; his daughter, Sarah Jencks Weedon, and partner Deirdre Robinson of Bristol, Rhode Island; his granddaughter, Emily Weedon Chapman, and partner Peter Chapman, and great-grandson Corbett Reid Chapman, all of Washington. He is also survived by Rebecca Lacy, Nicholas Lacy, and Margaret Lacy Golston, the children of his sister, the late Mary Weedon Lacy; and by his stepdaughters, Amanda Cashman Harvey and Josephine Cashman.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, in the MIT Chapel, 48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Donations may be made in his memory to MIT, the Museum of Science, or the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.

Press Mentions

Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter J.M. Lawrence writes about the legacy of D. Reid Weedon Jr., an MIT alumnus and life member emeritus of the MIT Corporation, who died at age 96. Lawrence notes that Weedon was a “key fund-raiser for MIT for 60 years,” and “worked with nine MIT presidents while mentoring many young fund-raisers.”

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